Cedar Canvas keel

I am in the process of ordering a cedar canvas Prospector canoe for use on lakes and big slow rivers. The canoes are available with keel or without (the keel being a narrow v-shaped model) - it’s purpose is to protect the bottom of the canoe rather than for an actual keel effect so I am wondering if it is worthwhile for the locations I would use it.

Since no response to your post yet, I’ll chime in. Pro: A small keel will help protect the bottom if you are having to slide your boat up onto a dock on a regular basis. Cons: From this paddlers experience, if you are using general care in handling your canoe, you would benefit more in maneuverability to leave it off. After all, maneuverability is probably important to you if choosing a prospector hull; otherwise, you would more then likely be looking for at better tracking hull with more initial stability for the type of paddling described. Ps. Have also heard folks mention a keel as a potential place for water seepage/rot if neglected.

Keels on Canvas-Covered Canoes
Some people swear by them, others at them. The people that I know who swear at them are canoe builders even though they usually get business because of the damage caused when they leak.

I’m of the opinion that it makes absolutely no sense to install canvas on a hull to make it water tight and then proceed to drill around 15 or so holes in it to install a keel. You get very little tracking benefit from a keel so the main thing you would gain would be the protection mentioned in a previous post.

If the protection is generally needed due to shallow water then a price eventually has to be paid for using a keel this way. The first thing that would come into contact with the bottom of the river, lake, etc. would be the keel and this “pulling” on the fasteners would eventually work on the joint {holes, etc} causing it to loosen.

Also, because wood swells & shrinks as it gets wet & dries out the expansion & contraction that goes on would also be working on this joint and will eventually loosen it.

I for one have no use for keels but do admit that in a livery or camp enviroment, where a regular maintenance program is in effect, they do have a benefit…


Rebuilding an Old Town 16’ OTCA
built in 1955. Had to replace 13 ribs and 80 feet of planking because of riding over logs etc. over the years. Had one he** of a time getting the keel off without breaking it after removing all of the screws. No rot or leakage. They sure used some great bedding compound back then. Probably pure white lead. Don’t intend to replace it or the sponsons so that I can solo the canoe occasionally when I can find someone to help load and unload from the racks.

keel confirmation
Thank you all for the replies. I had also heard, in the meantime, that the keel has the potential to create more problems than it solves - particularly if it is banged or scraped hard. Repairing all those screw holes etc. takes way longer than patching the canvas at the hit area (if it needs patching).

I think I will be ordering the canoe without keel and actually try and pay attention to where I am going.

Thank you all.